No sting in these oxtail recipes
It’s an unfashionable cut, but oxtail can make delicious, warming dishes like this soup and braise. Photographs: Harry Weir
Vanessa Greenwood’s oxtail soup with Marmite creme fraiche.
Gary O’Hanlon’s braised oxtail with harissa and watercress.
VANESSA’S WAY: OXTAIL SOUP WITH MARMITE CREME FRAICHE
Everyone is eulogising about bone broth, otherwise known as beef stock to grandma. In the old days, beef tea was seen as an antidote to winter chills and I suspect oxtail soup had a meteoric moment in the 1970s , with a similar list of miraculous health benefits. Why else would my mum have administered Campbell’s oxtail soup to me on a regular basis?
As a meal in a bowl, my oxtail recipe is inspired by a delicious Hungarian goulash served in the Roundwood Inn in Co Wicklow. I have often hiked through Djouce woods or scaled the Sugar Loaf in anticipation of their hearty cure-all soup, served in front of a dancing fire. While not always visible in the shop window, many butchers will have oxtails in their freezer. Make this a day in advance so the slow cooked flavours intensify.
GARY’S WAY: BRAISED OXTAIL WITH HARISSA AND WATERCRESS
Most small butcher shops are packed with less popular cuts that butchers are only dying to pass on, mostly at great value.
I only recently finished filming the latest series of The Restaurant and one thing that really struck me was the standard of food and menus the celebrity contestants are bringing to the table nowadays, compared to four or five years ago, when I first joined the programme.
It mirrors a conversation I had with a restaurant critic recently, who said he was actually struggling to find bad food. What a great place to have Irish food at now. When people at home are upping their game, then so too must chefs, and thus everyone wins.
With that in mind, call in to your local butcher this weekend and grab some oxtail and break away from the norm. I always say, you get out what you put in, so when all is said and done, you’ll have much more satisfaction from your efforts than simply being lazy and cooking a steak.